After a couple of underwhelming victories the past few weeks, this win was just what United needed to not only continue their unbeaten streak, but also gain some confidence going into Superliga. Recently, United has been beating lesser opponents while giving up too many goalscoring opportunities. But in this match, against inarguably one of the most talented offensive teams in the league, DC dominated possession, dominated the scoreline, and performed admirably well on defense. United struggled early in the year in international play, but after this big win in a great atmosphere over a good team, the team may finally be ready to make something happen in Superliga.
1. Luciano Emilio extends his goal scoring streak to 5 games by adding another 2. Now with 10 goals on the year, Emilio is back on pace to score 20 for the second year in a row, and is tied with Buddle for 2nd place in the league. With Donovan likely to miss a good bit of time on national team duty, Emilio should now be considered the favorite to win the Golden Boot for the second straight year.
2. What a perfect cross to assist Emilio on his first goal by Marc Burch. I gave him a hard time in my review last week, but in this match, when Quaranta left the pitch and Fred moved to the right, DC was able to take advantage of LA on the left side moreso with Burch than they had with Fred. Burchie was also just an inch or two away from a free kick score that rattled the crossbar.
3. It was disappointing to see Santino Quaranta come out after 25 minutes of fantastic soccer. He earned the penalty kick in the 5th minute, and made several great runs in his short time, and also made a good stop on defense. There was a very noticeable drop-off in play on the right side once Quaranta departed and Fred moved over.
4. Props to Tommy Soehn for rolling out his top lineup and using his substitutes I thought much more effectively than LA.
1. Although they all made some key stops during the match, I think any one of Zach Wells, Gonzalo Peralta, or Devon McTavish could have done better to stop Buddle's goal. Wells looked confident making some great saves, and for the first time looked like a decent starting keeper. Peralta's whiffed clearance and McTavish's inability to get a touch were the main causes of the goal, but Wells could have reacted a bit sooner too. This defense was just inches away from their first clean sheet, and it would have been wonderful to earn it against the top scoring team in the league.
2. Marcelo Gallardo was largely uninvolved for most of the first half, at least at times when he wasn't smacking Donovan in the nose. By the way, shouldn't ABC have done better to dump out Landon's cursing? Anyway, Gallardo redeemed himself later in the match with a well-taken goal.
1. In my love of creating controversy, I'm going to put Fred down here today. This was his second match in a row that I think he underperformed. My comments about Burch and Quaranta above show clearly that Fred was the weakest link on the wings in this match. His assist to Emilio's second goal was well-placed, but I think Emilio could have had a hat trick today had Fred played the ball across the front of the goal to him instead of taking a weak shot right at Cronin earlier in the second half.
With this win, United moves solidly into the playoffs, now sitting in third place in MLS with 22 points. But more importantly, they are now beaming with confidence, ready to go on a run in Superliga, and are once again finally a reasonable candidate to win the Supporters' Shield. Also, how great was it to see our talisman Ben Olsen running around on the pitch again? And so unexpected. I'm curious to see how Soehn will use Olsen in the Open Cup match on Tuesday.
With this match being shown on national TV before the Euro final, with the obvious draw of David Beckham, I bet that DC United earned a lot of new fans across the country today. People who tuned in to see Donovan and Beckham didn't see very much of them in the second half, did they?. Any fan of the sport who isn't necessarily a big MLS fan who watched this match saw two good teams, but only one team good enough to pull off the victory, and only one team that fought hard for 90 minutes instead of giving up after 75.